07/16/2013 05:22 pm ET Updated Sep 15, 2013

Mindfulness: An Adventure in Transformation

"Mindfulness meditation is not a nice little thing... It's not like frosting on a cupcake. This is a major major transformation."

This insight comes from Gary, a 42-year-old former addict, and subject of The Atlantic's recent article, "How Meditation Works."

On the surface, mindfulness works in seemingly boring swaths of activity -- long lengths of time sitting in quiet spaces with or without other people nearby, sometimes thinking, sometimes feeling one's breath. It doesn't sound too dynamic.

How can something so simple be so transformative?

Mindfulness training works by bringing awareness to our own inner patterns of reactivity, and exercises the mental muscles which maintain that awareness throughout the day. It prepares us for listening more deeply to our own needs and the needs of others, making the outcome of any event entirely unpredictable, and ultimately ripe for transformation.

Imagine for a moment...

You are sitting at dinner with your family, and each person takes the time to fully listen and consider what is being felt and shared by the family member who is speaking. What about your life might change?


You are shopping for new clothes online and choose all of your favorites. Before making any payments, you consider what you really need, and consult your bank account before making any purchases. How might the clothes feel differently when you wear them?

Part of my inspiration for teaching and coaching is to encourage this way of talking about mindfulness. The practice is not just about stress reduction, but about opening us up to growth and transformation. It is about remaking our lifestyles around deep inner values, which mindfulness help us to see.

From there, we engage our family, friends and society in a conversation around a way of being in the world. Day by day, we can face the ups and downs with a little more clarity, a little less defensiveness, and more curiosity, joy and appreciation.

What's Your Experience?
In the comments below, or on the Living with Mindfulness Facebook page, share an experience about when your mindfulness practice helped shift your approach to a difficult life situation. Visit Living with Mindfulness for more mindful living tips, practices and coaching.

For more by Patrick Groneman, click here.

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